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Manufacturing Contracts: Everything You Need to Know

The global contract manufacturing market will be worth over $2.7 trillion by 2023. Contract manufacturing is a significant part of the economy and drives business growth.

And for a good reason. Contract manufacturing is beneficial to companies hiring a contractor. They can use the latest technology and machinery, resources, and expert knowledge.

With so much at stake, manufacturing contracts include more than an agreement to work together. Manufacturing contracts are incredibly specific and cover a vast range of terms.

Before signing on the dotted line, here’s everything you need to know about manufacturing contracts.

What Is A Manufacturing Contract?

Many businesses don’t have the facilities or funding to manufacture their own products. Instead, they work with a dedicated manufacturing company that can produce the product for the company to sell.

If a company cannot or doesn’t want to make its own product, it will sign a manufacturing contract. Manufacturing contracts cover everything, from construction to children’s toys and military equipment. Even some perishable goods like food fall under manufacturing contracts.

A manufacturing contract is an agreement between the company that makes the items and the company that sells them. The contract covers every aspect of the manufacturing process, including:

  • Sourcing raw material
  • Delivery dates
  • Quality
  • Quantity
  • Price and payment
  • Transportation
  • Liabilities and legal responsibilities
  • Ownership and Intellectual property rights
  • Testing and Certification requirements

The manufacturing contracts let both parties know what is expected of them. Eventually, working with a production partner will come to an end.

A manufacturing should include information about how and when the contract will end. This may include information on breach of contract, insolvency, and conflict of interest.

Types of Manufacturing Contracts

In general, manufacturing contracts are relatively straightforward. There are several different types of manufacturing contracts. Each type makes allowances for specific partnerships and agreements.

These are the most common types of manufacturing contracts.

Private Label Manufacturing

Private label manufacturing is the most common type of manufacturing contract. This agreement involves a manufacturer making a product to particular specifications. The design, sales, and marketing are the responsibility of the business. The manufacturer does not make decisions.

This is the ideal contract for businesses with exact specifications that don’t want to deal with the effort of manufacturing.

End-To-End Manufacturing

Also known as full-scale production, this is similar to private label manufacturing. End-to-end manufacturing means the manufacturer provides has input into the design and materials. For example, a company might enter an end-to-end contract for a manufacturer to make a specific industrial machine. The manufacturer will then take responsibility for the exact design, process, and materials.

The benefit of this type of contract is that the manufacturer can save money by designing a cost-effective operation. For companies that want an affordable product without hassle, this contract is ideal.

Individual Component Manufacturing

Some manufacturing contracts are limited to certain parts or components. The contracted manufacturer handles making one part of a larger product. Manufacturers may work alongside other manufacturers. Alternatively, they may send parts to the final assembly line.

These contracts can become very complex. Often these contract are in agreement with third-party companies. If Company A hires Company B to make a part, Company B might want to hire Company C to make a small part of the final product. In this case, the agreement because companies B and C must be approved by Company A.

This type of contract is common in specialist industries. Manufacturers outsource components that need expert knowledge and labor.

Labor Or Service Subcontracting

This contract is similar to individual component manufacturing contracts. Labor and services contracts are common in specialist industries. If a manufacturer doesn’t offer a full service, they may outsource some elements to a third party.

Manufacturers hire third-party suppliers or extra subcontractors for tasks that need specialists. This could include particular industry standards or qualifications.

The Benefits of Using Manufacturing Contracts

The contract manufacturing market is still growing. More companies are appreciating the benefits of outsourcing manufacturing. Contracts benefits both sides by setting expectations and outlining exactly what needs to be done.

Here are a few of the main benefits of manufacturing contracts.

Cost Savings

A good manufacturing contract should save money for both sides. Outsourcing manufacturing means companies don’t need to invest in specialist equipment. There is no need to set up factories, hire more staff or source materials. Furthermore, depending on the cross-border conditions, there may be tax savings.

For the manufacturer, contracts can help manufacturers adjust for expected quality and deadlines. With more information, companies can plan resources to save energy and labor costs. Manufactures can also bulk-buy raw materials at a lower cost.

Improved Focus

Working with a manufacturer allows companies to focus on what they do best. There is no need to become experts in the manufacturing process. Companies can spend money and resources designing and marketing their product.

The manufacturing company doesn’t need to worry about finding customers and making sales. This makes each company more efficient and more successful in its own field.

Increased Quality

Outsourcing manufacturing to an expert manufacturer means benefitting from their experience and expertise. The manufacturing company will have processes to ensure quality. A professional company is less likely to make mistakes resulting in recalls. This allows most companies to benefit from a higher-quality product from the start.

For companies that don’t have experience in manufacturing, outsourcing guarantees quality.

A contract makes the acceptable standard clear for manufacturing companies. This allows them to work to the quality requirements. Manufacturing companies can clearly understand what is expected.

Legal Security

A proper manufacturing agreement provides security for both sides. It can also help to increase trust between partners. With a signed contract, both companies can relax knowing they are protected. Neither side will end up in trouble for the other’s mistakes.

Legally-binding contracts help protect intellectual property and patents. And ensure that health and safety are taken seriously. Failure to adhere to the agreed-upon standards can result in the contract being void.

With secure agreements in place, both companies can trust the other. The result of not meeting expectations could have severe consequences.

Things To Look Out For

Manufacturing contracts are usually drawn up by legal departments. They are designed to protect the interests of both parties. A contract should help everything run smoothly and ensures the process is simple.

However, some companies run into problems with poorly written contracts. A production contract can cause more trouble than expected if you’re not careful.

Copyright and Selling Ideas

For protected and patented ideas or designs, outsourcing means more people could leak the design. Even if you have airtight restrictions on a design, competitors can create similar designs.

For unprotected designs, unethical manufacturers can sell ideas to other companies. They may make a profit and help the competition by creating your product for others.

Cutting Corners

Unless a contract is very specific, some manufacturers may source from questionable locations. The contract should include testing capabilities and procedures. The contract should outline potential consequences for manufacturers that cut corners during production.

Damage to Reputation

Child labor and slavery are not uncommon in some parts of the world. Companies need to be sure they trust their manufacturer to make good decisions. The potential for reputation damage is significant. A product made using child labor could be a PR disaster, even if the company was unaware. Your manufacturer is an extension of your business. Your business values and ethics should align. 

Other Priorities

Many manufacturers will work with several clients at a time. This can result in one contract taking priority over another. The result is that deadlines can be missed as the manufacturer focuses on another project. A contract should make deadlines clear. This also means that surges in demand may not be met by production. The manufacturer cannot necessarily stop working with another client to fulfill demand surges.

Cultural Differences

Contract manufacturing is a global industry. As a result, there are plenty of cultural differences. Contract manufacturing in China has different expectations from similar companies in the USA. Working across borders with Chinese contract manufacturing means double-checking language translations. There may also be country-specific regulations and cultural differences.

What To Know Before You Sign A Manufacturing Contract

If you’re thinking of outsourcing manufacturing, you want to be sure you’re signing the right contract. Before putting pen to paper, here are some things to ask your production partner.

Who Is The Point Of Contact?

Often overlooked, knowing your specific contact is incredibly important. It means that if you have a problem, you can get in touch with someone fast. Otherwise, you may be unsure who to contact when things go wrong or when you want to make changes to your product.

Do You Have Testimonials?

If you want to take advantage of someone’s experience and skill, they should be able to demonstrate it. Ask to see client testimonials or example products from their line. This will allow you to be a judge of their quality of work.

Can I See Your Factory/Workshop?

A manufacturer should be transparent and willing to show you around their facilities. If they are reluctant, they may have something to hide. In minor cases, this can include a few health and safety breaches or operational inefficiencies. In more extreme cases, this can consist of child labor.

How Are You Maximizing Efficiency And Keeping Costs Low?

This will give you a good idea of how the manufacturer balances cost savings while maintaining a high standard. You should be aware of internal quality assurance procedures. Asking this can also help you understand exactly what you are paying for. It can also give insight into what type of business the manufacturer is. 

Will Raw Material Price Increases Be Passed On?

Raw material costs frequently fluctuate. This can become an unplanned hidden cost later on. Some manufacturers will bulk buy in advance and take price increases into account. However, some contractors will ask for a price increase later on as raw material costs change.

What Process Do You Have In Place When Things Go Wrong?

To have total trust in your manufacturing partner, you need to be confident they know what to do when things don’t go to plan. This can include fire to supply chain issues and quality control failure. This should include how and when they inform you of problems.

What Non-Compete Clauses Do You Have?

His might not be relevant for every situation. However, there are many cases where you don’t want your manufacturer working with your competitor. You should check how they deal with competition proposals before signing.

What Possibility Is There For Contract Flexibility?

Business changes fast. You may sign a contract for one thing and find a few months later that you need to make changes. This could be quantity, quality, design, or price. Before signing, check out how much of the contract is flexible. What are your options for changing it, and how long will it take for changes to be implemented? You should also check if changes will incur extra costs.

The Right Manufacturing Contract For Your Business

Not all manufacturing contracts are created equal. Getting the right contractor for your business takes time, effort, and knowledge. Before you sign a contract, you should get it checked by your legal department or an independent lawyer.

Working with a good manufacturing company can save you time, money, and hassle and help you achieve a higher quality product.

Get in touch today to start enjoying all the benefits of contract manufacturing.